Importance of Autism Awareness and Acceptance


While autism is not a mental health disorder, it often carries the same stigmatization as some mental health disorders. By moving from awareness to acceptance, we can hopefully accelerate the destigmatizing of the disorder.  

Something that's often forgotten about people with autism is that they have other behavioral health disorders, just like the rest of us. It's extremely common to see children with autism who also have anxiety-related disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders, for example. Some of the behaviors you see in kids with autism are really related to underlying anxiety. 

It's also important to remember that the definition of autism has evolved. There was a time when autism and Asperger's were treated separately. Now, children with Asperger's symptoms are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. There's a huge spectrum of people with autism, with a high percentage of those who are just a little on the spectrum. They're more often going to have problems with issues like depression, getting bullied, and having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). All too often, the sole explanation provided for children who are autistic and experiencing these other problems is that they are an autistic kid. Instead, this is a kid who happens to have autism and may also be depressed. That's the same as a child with Down syndrome symptomatology. Those kids get depressed as well. Depression is an emotional state and is not due to intellectual status. People with cognitive or intellectual issues become depressed or anxious as well.  

Autism is now uncovering itself. With the acceptance of ASD, we must be aware that if someone has autism, we need to treat them just like everybody else. Once you get used to and accepting of someone having autism, then you start to notice the rest of the potential challenges they may be facing. 

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